Betty Comden

Betty Comden

Active - 1944 - 2003  |   Born - May 3, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York, United States  |   Died - Nov 23, 2006   |   Genres - Musical, Comedy, Romance

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Biography by AllMovie

Though they were never married, writer/lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green were joined at the hip so far as the public was concerned. Betty Comden was doing just fine as a NYU grad and just adequately as a theatre actress when she met fellow performers Green, Judy Holliday and Alvin Hammer. Forming a comedy/revue act called The Revellers, the four young performers were a hit on the New York nightclub circuit when they were brought to Hollywood to appear in the 1944 musical Greenwich Village. Only Judy Holliday was able to go on as a successful solo performer, but Comden and Green flourished as a writing/acting collaboration in such Broadway musicals as On the Town and Billion Dollar Baby, then as non-performing writers and lyricists for such major MGM musicals as Good News (1947), Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949), The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), Singin' in the Rain (1952) and The Band Wagon (1953) (this last film included an ersatz Comden-Green team in the form of Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant). After their MGM years, Comden and Green collaborated on Broadway hits like Bells are Ringing (1956) and films like What a Way to Go (1964), deftly blending coherent continuity with stinging satire. They were also responsible for the 1967 ABC musical special I'm Getting Married, and have packed the houses with their own two-person stage show. More recently, the team has won Tony awards for the Broadway hits On the Twentieth Century and The Will Rogers Follies. Like Adolph Green, Betty Comden also made a number of late-career acting appearances, notably as Greta Garbo in the closing scenes of Garbo Talks (1984).

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  • Changed her last name from Cohen to Comden as a teenager, when she decided to pursue a career in show business. First collaborated with writing partner Adolph Green on the creation of a Greenwich Village nightclub troupe called the Revuers. Made her stage debut alongside Green in the 1944 Broadway musical On the Town, for which the team also served as librettists and lyricists. Rare film appearances include the 1944 musical Greenwich Village and the 1984 drama Garbo Talks. Managed to successfully adapt the classic 1950 film All About Eve into a Tony-winning musical, the 1970 hit Applause. Memoir Off Stage (1995) avoided discussing professional successes and focused on private issues, such as her son's drug addiction and death from AIDS. Maintained a daily work schedule with Green and continued to meet---even when not preparing a project---until his death in 2002.